Open Letter from British MPs: Modi Regime Destroying India’s Democracy

Narendra Modi (file photo). Courtesy: PIB
Narendra Modi (file photo). Courtesy: PIB

By RMN News Service

Over 200 top citizens from the United Kingdom (UK) have condemned the “dictatorial and majoritarian agenda” being pursued by the Indian government headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.

In an open letter signed by prominent figures from the field of arts, academia, journalism, law, and politics, the signatories have accused the Modi government of trumping up charges against students, human rights defenders, and civil society activists for peaceful and democratic protests.

A number of British MPs cutting across various political parties, including Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell and Scottish National Party’s Philipa Whitford, are among the signatories who have lamented that “India’s image in the world has never been so tarnished.”

According to The Wire news site which published the statement on October 2, the signatories also include cultural personalities like filmmaker Ken Loach, writer Hari Kunzru, actress Martina Laird, journalist Ash Sarkar, and several senior academics and professors.

They have observed that “criminalization of dissent has intensified in unprecedented ways in recent months”, while the Covid-19 pandemic rages across India. On the other hand, the letter has said that despite mounting evidence to prove the culpability of ruling party leaders in making inflammatory speeches, nothing has been done to rein them in, especially during Delhi violence in February.

The letter adds that the Modi regime has incarcerated student protesters, feminist campaigners, human rights activists, and prominent civil society figures.

According to the statement, many arrests were made on the basis of emergency laws that have no accountability, like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). In some cases, patently absurd charges of rioting were concocted to frame activists whose protests have always been peaceful and constitutional.

The letter says this criminalization of dissent has intensified in unprecedented ways in recent months. Arrests have been made under the cover of the Covid lockdown, while the pandemic is spreading across India.

The callous BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government of PM Modi has not only failed its vulnerable population of migrant workers but also exposed activists to India’s unsanitary jails, which are breeding grounds for disease. Several imprisoned activists have already caught the virus, the letter said.

Meanwhile, according to the signatories, the BJP leaders have made inflammatory hate speeches calling for vigilante attacks on anyone protesting the regime. There is mounting evidence that police forces were complicit in abetting and committing brutality against Muslims in horrific riots instigated in Delhi. Once again, the letter said, the actual perpetrators of violence are evading accountability.

“The Modi regime is systematically destroying India’s constitutional democracy in pursuit of its dictatorial and majoritarian agenda. India’s image in the world has never been so tarnished,” the signatories to the letter observed. “We stand with the courageous activists in India who are opposing this vicious regime and call for the immediate release of all political prisoners.”

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Rakesh Raman